Legislation legalizing electric-powered bicycles and scooters went into effect on Monday, November 23rd.
The new rules represent a major victory for advocates who see e-bikes and e-scooters as a safer, pandemic-friendly alternative to private cars and who saw the old prohibitions as an unfair burden on the largely immigrant delivery workers who use them.
Congrats to everyone in the #deliverjustice coalition on pouring their hearts into legalizing e-bikes for immigrant food delivery workers. A light in the midst of 2020. @TransAlt @LegalAidNYC @MaketheRoadNY @jessicaramos @CM_MargaretChin @cmenchaca @nily @AAFederation https://t.co/cYbSEeCgUT
— Biking Public Project (@BikingPublic) November 24, 2020
Under the new rules, which were approved by the City Council in June, pedal-assist and throttle e-bikes that go up to 25 mph and e-scooters that go up to 15 mph are now legal to ride on bike lanes and all streets with a speed limit of 30 mph or lower.
All riders must be at least 16 years old, and helmets are legally required for all delivery workers and for those riding bikes with a max speed higher than 20 mph.
The prime sponsor of the legislation was Bronx Council Member Fernando Cabrera. The Council also passed a bill requiring the city to launch an e-scooter share pilot program by March 1st, 2021.
For years, delivery workers have made heavy use of e-bikes and were often subject to crackdowns involving heavy fines and confiscation of the bikes, a practice Mayor Bill de Blasio defended as recently as January. The city suspended those crackdowns as the pandemic began in March, and on Monday, the NYPD reversed or refunded the few e-bike tickets it has issued in the last several months.
Separately, the Council has considered legislation adding additional requirements to moped sharing companies like Revel, after that company temporarily shut down service following the deaths of three riders.